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Acupuncture Benefits For Anxiety And Stress And Depression

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There are several things that stress us out in our everyday life such as work, politics, personal relationships, etc. When our stress levels go up, our physical and mental health starts to suffer, resulting in fatigue, anxiety, or depression.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health concerns. Over 40 million American adults experience anxiety symptoms which refers to immense worrying that’s challenging to control and usually impacts everyday life.

Sometimes anxiety and depression can occur at the same time. As a matter of fact, one study revealed that half of the people with either depression or anxiety have the other condition.

If you are suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression, you should definitely think about getting acupuncture to improve your condition. Acupuncture is swiftly becoming a popular alternative treatment for these medical conditions. There is some evidence and research that acupuncture assists with symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Acupuncture Benefits for Anxiety and Stress and Depression

Here is how acupuncture benefits anxiety, stress, and depression and what research says about it.

Anxiety and Depression

A systematic clinical review summarized the existing evidence on acupuncture as a therapy for anxiety and depression in females and presented a novel method for evaluating acupuncture trial quality. It included published randomized controlled trials, where acupuncture was compared with any control procedure in subjects suffering from anxiety and/or depression. The review concluded that there is increasing evidence supporting the use of acupuncture for helping treat the major depressive disorder in pregnancy.

Another study compared conventional treatment, acupuncture, and a treatment program that integrated talk therapy and acupuncture. The study reported that therapeutic acupuncture and integrative treatment considerably and clinically reduced anxiety and depression as compared to conventional treatment. In addition, nearly half of the patients in both the integrative acupuncture and acupuncture groups with initial anxiety or depression witnessed significant improvements following treatment.

In 2018, another systematic review of clinical research reviewed the literature on the effectiveness of acupuncture and electroacupuncture for the treatment of patients suffering from anxiety disorders to find strong scientific evidence for its regular practice in Western culture. The review focused on published clinical trials (randomized, non-randomized, and controlled) regarding the treatment of anxiety with acupuncture. The final conclusion of the review was that there is good scientific evidence encouraging acupuncture therapy to treat anxiety disorders as it leads to effective results, with lesser side effects as compared to conventional treatment, which encompassed medications in certain studies.

Recently, a review and meta-analysis aimed to study whether acupuncture positively impacts anxiety disorder. The findings of the review suggest that acupuncture therapy aimed at minimizing anxiety in patients with a generalized anxiety disorder has certain benefits as compared to controls.

Stress

Our body manages stress through a mechanism known as heart rate variability (HRV). A higher HRV is associated with improved health and stress coping ability.

Acupuncture can help the body’s ability to deal with stress by enhancing its HRV. A study explored a range of HRV parameters during acupuncture treatment sessions and over the course of treatment in a number of patients being treated for hypertension. The HRV of some patients increased overtime during the course of acupuncture treatment for hypertension. This indicated a relative decline in their physiological stress.

Acupuncture can improve the flow of Qi, resulting in relief and relaxation. This might be because acupuncture can trigger hormones such as endorphins – often known as the “feel good” hormones. According to researchers, this can help reduce pain.

Understanding Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

The terms stress, anxiety, and depression are often used interchangeably. However, the truth is that they are three completely different conditions.

Stress

Stress is a feeling of physical or emotional tension. It can come from any thought or event that makes you feel angry, nervous, or frustrated.

Symptoms

According to TCM, stress can obstruct the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. This can lead to:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Distractedness

Other symptoms of stress can include chest pain, high blood pressure, skin rashes, heart palpitations, and loss of sleep.

Causes

Causes of stress include

  • High workload
  • Poor working conditions
  • Death of a loved one
  • Unemployment
  • Divorce
  • Any change in life
  • Fear or uncertainty.

Anxiety

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of apprehension or fear about lies ahead.

Symptoms

Symptoms of anxiety can include

  • racing thoughts
  • excessive worry
  • insomnia
  • racing heart
  • muscle tension

Causes

As per one TCM theory, anxiety can be caused by

  • panic disorders
  • phobias
  • stress
  • use of an illicit drug
  • Symptoms of a medical illness

Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that entails a continuous feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It’s not like the mood fluctuations that we often experience in life.

Symptoms

Symptoms of depression include

  • Lack of energy or tiredness
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Changes to weight and appetite
  • Frustration and irritability
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.

Last Few Words

If you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or depression, you should look into acupuncture to alleviate your condition and enhance your mental health.

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), we provide acupuncture treatments that help you manage symptoms associated with anxiety, stress, and depression. You can call 713-780-9786 for an appointment. We also provide acupuncture treatments at the Houston Methodist Hospital location at 713-441-5980.

acupuncture benefits for migraine

Defeat Migraine with Acupuncture

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Migraine headaches are quite debilitating, and individuals suffering from them can find them hard to manage without taking prescription medication. Acupuncture can help alleviate the pain associated with migraines.

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine where practitioners insert single-use, stainless steel needles into particular points of the body. People can use acupuncture in place of conventional treatment or use it alongside them.

In this article, we will explore the acupuncture benefits for migraines.

What Is Migraine?

Migraine is a neurological condition that can lead to several symptoms. Its often characterized by severe, debilitating headaches. Migraines typically run in families and impact people of every age group.

Migraine headaches are diagnosed based on reported symptoms, clinical history, and by factoring out other causes. There are two common categories of migraine headaches – the first one is without aura, and the second one is with aura.

A person can either experience migraines from childhood, or they might not experience them until early adulthood. Females are more likely than males to experience migraines. The most common risk factor for having migraines is family history.

Symptoms of Migraine

Migraine symptoms might appear a couple of days before the actual headache. This is called the prodrome stage. The symptoms of this stage generally include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Food cravings
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Hyperactivity
  • Neck stiffness
  • Frequent yawning

In migraine with aura, the aura occurs after the prodrome stage. During an aura, you might experience problems with your movement, speech, sensation, and vision. Examples of these problems include:

  • Experiencing a tingling or prickling sensation in your arms, legs, or face
  • Difficulty speaking clearly
  • Seeing bright spots, shapes, or light flashes
  • Short-term vision loss.

The subsequent phase is the attack phase. It is the most severe or acute phase, as this is when the actual migraine pain happens. The symptoms of this phase can last anywhere from hours to days. Symptoms of a migraine can differ amongst different people. Certain symptoms might include:

  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint or dizziness
  • Heightened sensitivity to sound and light
  • Pain on one side of your side, either on the right side, left side, back, or front
  • Vomiting
  • Throbbing head pain.

Once the attack phase is over, a person will usually experience the postdrome phase. In this phase, there are typically changes in feelings and mood.

The intensity and length of these phases can occur to different degrees in different individuals.

Causes of Migraine

Doctors haven’t discovered the exact cause of migraine headaches. However, they have identified some factors that can contribute to the condition. This encompasses changes in brain chemicals, like a decrease in the levels of serotonin.

Other factors that can cause a migraine headache include:

  • Severe heat or other extreme weather conditions
  • Bright lights
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive stress
  • Hormonal changes in females, like fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause
  • Loud sounds
  • Skipping meals
  • Intense physical exercise
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Use of certain medicines, like oral contraceptives

Acupuncture Benefits for Migraine

Acupuncture is a kind of traditional Chinese medicine that places needles at particular points on the skin. The goal is to alter the energy flow through the body, leading to harmony and balance. Other effects that acupuncture can produce include:

  • Easing the muscles
  • Enhancing blood circulation
  • Allowing the body to release pain-alleviating chemicals, like endorphins.

Many studies suggest that acupuncture might help treat migraine pain and headaches.

Some advantages of acupuncture for headaches and migraines include:

1. Prevent Headaches

An increasing body of research suggests that acupuncture might help prevent migraine headaches or reduce their frequency. It might be more effective than commonly used headache treatments, including prescription migraine medications.

2. Lower Side Effects

Individuals might experience adverse side effects with migraine medication or have medical conditions that make conventional medicines unsafe. Acupuncture can be a feasible alternative.

Research on Acupuncture for Migraine

A 2016 Cochrane review compared 22 trials of acupuncture for migraines. Certain studies compared acupuncture to no treatment, whereas others compared acupuncture and medication or acupuncture and fake acupuncture.

Researchers discovered that acupuncture was beneficial in all three situations. The results of acupuncture surpassed fake acupuncture, conventional migraine treatment, and no other treatment.

In a 2012 randomized controlled trial, 480 patients received either one of three kinds of acupuncture, including fake acupuncture or electrical acupuncture. The acupuncture groups reported minor improvements in their headache frequency 5 – 8 weeks from the start of the treatment. From week 13 – 16, all acupuncture groups reported major improvements as compared to those who received fake acupuncture.

irregular menstrual period

Conclusion

If you are searching for alternative treatments for migraines, along with conventional treatment methods, you might find success with acupuncture.

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we provide acupuncture treatments that help you take control of your symptoms. Call our main clinic at 713-780-9786.  We also provide treatments at the Houston Methodist Hospital location. Contact us at 713-441-5980.

irregular menstrual period

Acupuncture to Regulate Menstrual Period and Alleviate Painful Menstruation and PMS

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Acupuncture has been used extensively for thousands of years to help eliminate stress and pain resulting from trauma or injury. Today, practitioners use strategies to help with very specific women’s health issues like irregular menstrual cycle, painful menstruation, and PMS. In this article, we will explore acupuncture benefits for menstrual period regulation, painful menstruation, PMS, etc.

Acupuncture can help to restore regular periods in women who are suffering from irregular or absent periods. Regulating the menstrual cycle is also beneficial to women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome and might have irregular ovulation.

a. Acupuncture Research on Irregular and Painful Menstruation and PMS

Here is a complete breakdown of what research says about irregular and painful menstruation as well as PMS.

1. Acupuncture for Irregular Menstrual Period

Acupuncture might improve the menstrual frequency of women suffering from the polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Certain studies have also revealed that acupuncture might be beneficial for menstrual frequency, improving serum hormone level and ovulation rate (Lim Chi ED, 2010).

In addition, irregular menstrual periods or amenorrhea might increase endometrial proliferation, which is associated with potentially premalignant disorders. Thus, using acupuncture can work as an alternative means for women experiencing PCOS who don’t wish to get pregnant and only want to improve their symptoms. (Jing Zhou, 2017)

2. Acupuncture for Painful Menstruation

According to a report published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is a condition that affects up to 95 percent of menstruating women.

A study conducted by Australian researchers investigates the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments in alleviating menstrual pain. The study was conducted by Dr. Mike Armour of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) at Western Sydney University in Australia, and his colleagues from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland, also in Australia.

Through their research, they discovered that acupuncture lowered menstrual pain duration and intensity after three months of the treatment, and the effects lasted for up to 12 months. (Hannah G. Dahlen, 2017)

Another study found evidence of benefit from acupuncture in the follow-up period, with a reduction in the duration of pain and less need for pain relief. (Caroline A. Smith, 2011)

3. Acupuncture for PMS

The primary cause for PMS is not known. However, it is influenced by fluctuations of hormones in the brain. Acupuncture can modify the brain’s mood chemistry, increasing endorphins and lowering serotonin levels, which are helpful in overcoming negative emotional states.

Another study stated inflammation to be a possible cause of PMS symptoms, including breast tenderness, bloating, and mood swings. It revealed that due to acupunctures posited anti-inflammatory effects, there was a significant improvement in PMS-related symptoms, particularly mood changes.

  1. What Is Irregular Menstruation Period, Painful Menstruation, and PMS

The usual length of a woman’s menstrual cycle is 28 days. However, this differs from woman to woman. Irregular menstruation is when the length of the cycle is longer than 35 days or if the duration varies.

Some discomfort, pain, and cramping during the menstrual period is normal. However, excessive pain that makes you miss school or work is not.

Painful menstruation is also known as dysmenorrhea. There are two kinds of dysmenorrhea – primary and secondary.

Primary dysmenorrhea occurs in women who experience pain during and before menstruation. If you have had normal periods that get painful later in life, it can be secondary dysmenorrhea.

PMS is a combination of emotional and physical symptoms that many women experience after ovulation and before the start of their period.

  1. Western Medical Reasons For Irregular Menstruation Period, Painful Menstruation, and PMS

Irregular Menstruation Period

Several factors increase the likelihood of irregular menstruation. Most of them are related to the production of hormones, specifically progesterone and estrogen, that regulate the cycle.

During the puberty stage, the body experiences significant changes. It can take multiple years for the progesterone and estrogen to balance, and irregular periods are quite common at this time.

Prior to menopause, women usually suffer from irregular periods, and the blood flow might vary.

Lastly, contraceptives can also lead to irregular bleeding. An IUD might cause heavy bleeding, while the contraceptive pill can result in spotting between cycles.

Painful Menstruation

Painful menstruation can be caused by underlying medical conditions, including:

  • A condition where cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other parts of the body, typically on the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, or tissue lining the pelvis.
  • Fibroids in the uterus. Fibroids can put pressure on the uterus and lead to excessive pain.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease. An infection of the ovaries, uterus, or Fallopian tubes is generally caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.

PMS

The exact cause of PMS is unknown. However, numerous factors might contribute to the condition –

  • Cyclical hormonal changes – Symptoms, and signs of PMS vary with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with menopause and pregnancy.
  • Chemical changes in the brain – Changes in serotonin levels play a critical role in mood states and can trigger PMS symptoms.

e. How does Chinese medicine view Irregular Menstruation Period, Painful Menstruation, and PMS

Irregular Menstruation Period

In traditional Chinese medicine theory, irregular menstruation is referred to as ‘Yuejing Shitiao,’ or disorders in the menstrual cycle. According to traditional Chinese medicine, irregular menstruation includes several menstrual conditions like the delayed or early menstrual cycle, scanty menstruation, irregular menstrual cycle, etc.

Traditional Chinese medicine has centuries of experience in treating most kinds of irregular menstruation with herbal medicine along with acupuncture.

Painful Menstruation

In traditional Chinese medicine, dysmenorrhea refers to recurrent lumbosacral or abdominal pain experienced before, after, or during menstruation.

PMS

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that PMS is mainly caused by stagnation of liver qi, which consequently leads to a periodic flush of abundant blood in the conception vessel (Ren Mai) and thoroughfare vessel (Chong Mai).

Last Few Words

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic,, we offer the best treatments in traditional Chinese medicine to women with irregular menstruation periods, painful periods, and PMS. Book a consultation today by dialing 713-780-9786.  Acupuncture is also offered at all ACAOM at Houston Methodist Hospital locations at 713-441-5980.

Bibliography

Caroline A. Smith, C. A. (2011). Acupuncture to Treat Primary Dysmenorrhea in Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Hindawi.

Hannah G. Dahlen, X. Z. (2017). The role of treatment timing and mode of stimulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea with acupuncture: An exploratory randomised controlled trial. PLOS ONE.

Jing Zhou, M. L. (2017). Efficacy of acupuncture on menstrual frequency in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Medicine (Baltimore).

Lim Chi ED, W. W. (2010). Current evidence of acupuncture on polycystic ovarian syndrome. Gynecol Endocrinol .

Acupuncture health benefits

Reduce Chances of a Miscarriage with Acupuncture

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Seeing those two lines on a pregnancy test can be one of the most joyous moments of any mother’s life. However, that joy can quickly turn to dread if the pregnancy is not viable. As per studies, recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) or miscarriages occur in 1% to 3% of all pregnancies and other studies estimate that 12% occur without the mother noticing till she starts hemorrhaging blood. That’s because one half of all miscarriages are not apparent till it is too late. In some cases, the placenta may still be producing hormones and you may still have morning sickness or breast tenderness.

Whether it is an apparent or silent one, the physical and emotional toll that even a single miscarriage can take on a patient’s wellbeing can be highly distressing. Even if they become pregnant again, the trauma of a prior miscarriage haunts them and increases their chances of getting another one.

Acupuncture Benefits to Prevent Miscarriage

Acupuncture has been known to be quite efficient in treating several causes of miscarriage and the research has been very promising.

Early pregnancies are susceptible to threatened miscarriages which can increase the risk of premature labor or miscarriage. According to this study, women who received acupuncture treatments showed reduced signs of threatened miscarriage.

During the study, 40 women were randomized successfully and those who were treated with acupuncture showed a significant reduction in common miscarriage symptoms. These includes cramping, back pain and bleeding. The study also showed that these women were unsatisfied with the medical advice (such as the ‘wait and see’ approach) and reports they were given prior to the study.

The study had two goals – to evaluate the feasibility of acupuncture and to determine the clinical outcomes with ongoing pregnancies as the main objective. The second objective also took the emotional and physical wellbeing of the pregnant subjects into account. The mixed study includes interviews and randomized controlled trials (for a group made up of women experiencing threatened miscarriage and receiving acupuncture and self-care advice and an active control group receiving medical advice).

The acupuncture treatment included a combination of needles, smokeless moxa sticks (which deliver heat to acupoints) and moxibustion therapy. It also included self-care advice by a licensed and experienced practitioner. Women from both groups received acupuncture treatments and many reported they preferred it over medical interventions such as the ‘wait and see’ approach as it gave them more control over their condition.

On exiting the study, women who received acupuncture indicated they were not as concerned about their primary symptom (such as vaginal bleeding and cramping).

Acupuncture to Prevent Miscarriages

Another study suggests that acupuncture can be used as a potential supportive treatment for recurrent or threat of miscarriage. Women who are at risk of miscarrying are usually advised to receive treatments three months before conception and also during the first trimester of their pregnancy to stabilize it.

As mentioned before, currently, the clinical treatment for women with threatened miscarriage is a ‘wait and see’ approach. In contrast, when supportive treatments were used for women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages, it was discovered that the solution increased the chances of live births compared to women receiving antenatal care.

The treatment is recommended for women undergoing IUI/IVF treatments especially if they are advanced in years and suffer from hormonal issues or autoimmune conditions. Regular sessions help the expecting mother de-stress, thus providing a healthy environment for the fetus to grow.

What is a Miscarriage?

To understand how acupuncture can be efficient in preventing a miscarriage, we need to do a deep dive into the condition first along with causes that increase its chances of occurring.

A miscarriage happens when a fetus or embryo dies before the 20th week of a pregnancy. The condition usually manifests during the first three months.

What Can Cause A Miscarriage?

Miscarriages can be caused by a culmination of several factors, but it is almost never caused by anything the pregnant mother has done. Some of the common reasons for a miscarriage include the following:

  • If there are an abnormal number of chromosomes in the fertilized egg. This happens in 50% of cases and include both numerical issues and structural alteration that result in a miscarriage. The condition is not genetic so it can happen to anyone.
  • Certain illnesses can cause a miscarriage. For example, if you have severe diabetes, you have higher chances of miscarrying than other mothers.
  • Uterus abnormalities.
  • If the mother has had two miscarriages in a row.
  • Maternal age.
  • Serious kidney disease.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Thyroid disease.
  • Severe malnutrition.
  • Lifestyle factors such as drinking, smoking, or consumption of illegal drugs.
  • Hormonal issues.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptom of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding which can range from a brownish discharge to heavy bleeding that contains red clots. Other symptoms that are associated with the condition include the following:

  • Discharge of fluid or tissue from the vagina.
  • Pain and cramping in the lower stomach.
  • Lack of pregnancy symptoms such as breast tenderness or nausea.
  • Severe or worsening back pain.
  • Weight loss.

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we offer several TCM treatments such as acupuncture that can help you through your pregnancy. All of our sessions are supervised and conducted by trained and experienced staff members. Book a consultation today by dialing 713-780-9786. We also offer acupuncture treatments at Houston Methodist Hospital locations. Just dial 713-441-5980 to book sessions there.

acupuncture benefits for cancer pain

Acupuncture Benefits Relieve Side Effects Of Chemo And Radiation, Cancer Pain

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Cancer treatments often lead to uncomfortable side effects and pain that can last well beyond the final treatment. To manage that pain, several people turn to acupuncture – a treatment derived from traditional Chinese medicine.

In this article, we will explore if acupuncture benefits relieve side effects of chemo and radiation, cancer pain.

What Is Cancer Pain?

Not everyone suffering from cancer experiences cancer pain, but some do. If you have cancer that’s recurred or spread, your chances of experiencing pain are higher.

Cancer pain can take several forms. It can be achy, burning, dull, or sharp. It can be mild, moderate, severe, intermittent, or constant. How much pain you feel depends on various factors, including the type of cancer you have, where its located, which stage it’s in, and your pain tolerance.

Most cancer pain is fairly manageable, and controlling it is a vital part of your treatment.

Causes

Pain can be a result of cancer itself. It can happen if cancer destroys or grows into nearby tissue. As a tumor starts to grow, it can press on bones, organs, or nerves. The tumor can even release pain-inducing chemicals.

Cancer treatment can alleviate the pain in these situations. Nevertheless, many cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, can also cause pain.

What Is Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy?

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are both cancer treatments – the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells to surrounding tissues.

Chemotherapy, also known as “chemo,” uses special drugs to eliminate or shrink cancer cells. On the other hand, radiation therapy, also known as “radiation,” kills these cells using high-energy beams such as protons or X-rays.

Both therapies have the same goals:

  • Cure – Get rid of all cancer cells and prevent the disease from recurring
  • Control – Slow or shrink cancer tumors to control the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body
  • Relief – Reduce the size of tumors to minimize pain and other difficult cancer symptoms (sometimes known as palliative radiation therapy).

When there is no possible cure, both radiation therapy and chemotherapy can be effective tools to slow down the progress of your cancer and alleviate pain along with other troubling symptoms.

Acupuncture Benefits Relieve Side Effects Of Chemo And Radiation, Cancer Pain

In this section, we will explore how acupuncture benefits relieve side effects of cancer pain, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Cancer Pain

This particular study from 2003 examined the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture in reducing the intensity of pain in cancer patients. 90 people suffering from cancer were randomly allocated into three groups. The first group got two courses of auricular acupuncture at points where no electrodermal signal was detected. The second group got auricular acupuncture with no electrodermal signal and one with auricular seeds located at placebo points.

The results of the research indicated a reduction in the intensity of pain. This highlights a clear advantage of auricular acupuncture for cancer patients who are suffering from pain, regardless of stable analgesic treatment.

Another article reviewed the existing literature (from January 2000 to April 2013) for acupuncture in cancer-associated psychological symptoms with attention to both acupuncture-specific methodology and efficacy. All the published studies that met the review criteria demonstrated a positive sign for acupuncture for the treatment of anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and for enhancing the quality of life, with many results showing statistical significance.

According to the National Cancer Institute, research reveals acupuncture can alleviate a large range of symptoms associated with cancer treatments, such as:

  • Dry mouth, caused by radiation therapy
  • Fatigue, common in several cancer patients and is usually a side effect of radiation therapy and chemotherapy
  • Hot flashes because of hormone therapy
  • Vomiting and nausea, caused by surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy
  • Pain, encompassing postoperative pain and joint and muscle pain caused by hormone therapy
  • Peripheral neuropathy, a frequent side effect of chemotherapy that causes numbness, muscle weakness, and pain in the hands or feet.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

The current article summarized all relevant studies available on the impact of acupuncture to minimize radiation-related side effects. The primary objective of all trials was to indicate that verum acupuncture has the potential to minimize common side effects, such as fatigue, in patients exposed to radiation therapy.

The article found that multiple groups showed a significant reduction in symptoms with acupuncture concomitant to radiation therapy. All studies showed that acupuncture is associated with better results in alleviating disorders as compared to control groups.

Another research states that randomized clinical trials have shown that acupuncture is effective for chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea. Moreover, research studies also suggest that acupuncture might be helpful in managing chemotherapy-associated neutropenia, cancer-related pain, radiation-induced xerostomia, and cancer fatigue.

Cancer Pain According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Patients with advanced tumors usually have a deficiency of vital qi, which is clinically presented as anorexia, cancer-related pain, vomiting/nausea, indigestion, constipation, fever, fatigue, which significantly impact the quality of life. TCM-based treatments such as acupuncture can significantly relieve the clinical symptoms, enhance the quality of life, and have a positive impact on cancer pain.

The TCM theories state that “unblocking the meridian and regulating qi ” is vital to resolving pains, including cancer pain. The acupoints have to be meticulously chosen and coordinated according to the clinical signs/symptoms.

Last Few Words

Acupuncture can be useful in managing cancer pain. Since the risks of using acupuncture are fairly small, acupuncture can be a safe, alternative treatment option for many people experiencing cancer pain and undergoing radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we specialize in offering treatments for many different conditions. We are the only herbal and acupuncture clinic affiliated with a specialized Oriental medicine institution in Houston.

Schedule an appointment with us at 713-780-9786 or at our clinics at Houston Methodist Hospital at 713-441-5980.

An acupuncturist performing a procedure

Acupuncture – More Than Just Pins And Needles

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If you are new to alternative healing practices, acupuncture may seem a bit frightening at first. How can becoming a human pin cushion make you feel better? Won’t it hurt? Besides this, compared to medical interventions, acupuncture is not only efficient, but less invasive as well.  Western medicine treatments provide many benefits for patients, and in certain conditions, acupuncture can be very beneficial either and an alternative or as an adjunct to standard care.

Not only is acupuncture not as painful as you think, but it also offers a range of health benefits. The fact that it has been practiced for more than 5000 years is a testament to that fact. From treating morning sickness to chronic pain, acupuncture can quickly become your go-to treatment for ailments that have made you miserable for years.

Mechanisms of Acupuncture

The mechanism of the ancient Chinese practice that is acupuncture has been studied for over 60 years. Acupuncture research has shown to reduce inflammation, increase circulation, increase immunity, reduce swelling, and release natural pain killers called endorphins.  Research has also shown sensory nerve pathways involving critical nerve fibers as well as descending ones are intricately mapped out. Several biological and signaling pathways have been pinpointed as how acupuncture is used to achieve specific effects but purinergic signaling stands out.

The phenomenon uses ATP and adenosine for signaling and regulation of several organ systems and tissues. Today, it is well known that every nerve transmission requires ATP and that our body utilizes purine levels as a signal to maintain overall health and wellness.

What Are Acupuncture Points?

Acupuncturists don’t stick needles randomly. They use a beautiful process that takes acupuncture points or acupoints into account. These are anatomically defined areas of the skin that are numbered in sequence. Each point corresponds to an organ that pinpoint the meridian on which it is located along with a number that indicates its exact position.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical procedure. There are 361 main acupuncture points connected to one another through pathways or meridians. Each of those points can provide relief from pain if they are stimulated a certain way.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), our life energy or ‘qi’ flows around 14 meridian lines along our body. Most of the points where an acupuncturist inserts needles are based around that intricate map, and each meridian connects with specific organs or groups of organs.

What Are Acupuncture Needles Used For?

They may look painful, but in the hands of a professional, acupuncture needles can work their magic and heal ailments and chronic conditions without side effects. It’s important to note that these needles are not your garden variety sewing needles. An acupuncture needle is quite thin and made from stainless steel. The length and material are essential as both make the needle flexible enough to be manipulated under the skin.

Acupuncturists use an array of needles to stimulate specific acupoints. For example, sensitive areas such as the face are treated with short needles, and areas made of dense tissue are treated with longer needles. Each needle is only used once and is discarded immediately after usage.

How the Needles Are Inserted

The needles are inserted strategically into each acupoint. You will feel a slight prick or tingling when it penetrates your skin. If you can withstand a mosquito bite, you can take acupuncture needles. A skilled acupuncturist will ensure that you feel next to nothing. Once the needles are in, the acupuncturist will guide the needle gently in.

What Happens After a Needle Is Inserted

You will rest for about 20 minutes once the needles are in place.  There should not be any sensation of feeling while you rest, and many people fall asleep during this time.

What to Expect During Your First Acupuncture Session?

An appointment with an acupuncturist is quite similar to a doctor’s appointment. The acupuncturist will ask you to detail your medical history and the symptoms you are experiencing. After that, they may ask you to stick your tongue out for an examination. The color, texture, and coating on the tongue help them figure out your general health and the treatment strategy they should employ.

Note: DO NOT scrub your tongue before going in for an appointment. It may look healthier than it is, and your acupuncturist may miss essential clues about your wellbeing.

This step is called an ‘intake process, and it starts the moment you make an appointment and when you arrive for it. Your acupuncturist will evaluate you the moment you step in. He/she will utilize various acupuncture related diagnostic methods to assess your health.

This is understandable because all of these factors present a bird’s eye view of an underlying problem you may not be aware of. Your acupuncturist will keep on collecting information like this throughout the appointment.

After determining the imbalances in your body, your acupuncturist will map out appropriate points to insert needles in. These are inserted along meridians that can eliminate health issues and discomfort and address any underlying condition. The aim is to bring the body back into homeostasis or wellness under its own power.

You will be lying comfortably on a bed as the needles are inserted. The experience will be akin to one you would get in a typical spa. The lights will be dimmed, soft music will calm you, and your acupuncturist will return to remove all the needles when the time is up.

Top Surprising Acupuncture Benefits

Here are some of the best acupuncture health benefits that your doctor may not tell you:

Improves mood

Acupuncture can stimulate the central nervous system to release endorphins and other chemicals that can make that stress drain away. Besides bringing a skip to your step, the stress relief will support your body in fighting off tendencies that can cause prolonged anxiety.

Gives relief from headaches

Depending on how and where the needles are placed, acupuncture can have prolonged pain-reducing effects. The endorphins that the needles stimulate the body to release alleviate headaches and migraines that can otherwise harm your lifestyle.

Enhances Sleep Quality

If you toss and turn at night for hours and are usually tired in the morning, you need acupuncture. The treatment can increase your body’s ability to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycles if present in sufficient amounts. With time, low levels can lead to a slew of health problems. Acupuncture can restore your natural ability to fall asleep by increasing and regulating those levels.

Final Word

Acupuncture may be an alternative treatment method, but its efficacy in treating health conditions and sustainable benefits are unquestionable. Please consult with a professional to ensure you get appropriate treatment.

The Main Clinic at American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) and ACAOM at Houston Methodist Hospital Wellness Services offer one of the best treatments in traditional Chinese medicine to patients. Book a consultation today by dialing 713-780-9786 (ACAOM) or 713-441-5980 (Houston Methodist Wellness Services).  Besides acupuncture, the main campus also specialize in herbal medicine, cupping, tui-na and other treatments.

acupuncture benefits for tinnitus

Acupuncture Benefits For Acupuncture – A Complete Guide

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Tinnitus is a medical condition that’s generally described as ringing in the ears. However, you could hear other sounds like clicking, humming, roaring, or buzzing.

For some people, tinnitus comes and goes. But for other people, it can last for days or hours on end. No matter how long it lasts, tinnitus can be a huge disruption to your everyday life, making it difficult to sleep or concentrate.

Even though tinnitus has no cure in some cases, a number of treatments, such as acupuncture, can help alleviate and resolve the condition.

Continue reading to learn more about acupuncture benefits for tinnitus.

Acupuncture Benefits for Tinnitus

Acupuncture can reduce symptoms of tinnitus in certain cases. Several studies have looked at acupuncture as a treatment for tinnitus, and many recent ones suggest acupuncture might decrease the intensity of tinnitus, improving the quality of life.

A study conducted in 2011 evaluated the therapeutic effects of acupuncture on the inner ear originated tinnitus. The study had 54 participants divided equally into the acupuncture group and the control group. The acupuncture group was treated with effective acupuncture with actual acupuncture needles, whereas the control group was treated with the normal acupuncture method but with fake needles.

After the 5th and 10th treatment sessions, the mean of tinnitus severity index decreased significantly in the acupuncture group. Moreover, there were also improvements in the quality of life of the acupuncture group. Thus, the study concluded that acupuncture could improve tinnitus in some selected patients.

Another study conducted in 2018 evaluated the impact of tinnitus on chronic non-pulsatile tinnitus. Patients experiencing chronic non-pulsatile tinnitus were randomly divided into two groups – acupuncture and control. They were treated in 15 sessions, and at the end of the 15th session, tinnitus severity index and visual analog scale for tinnitus loudness were completed.

The results revealed that the visual analog scale and tinnitus severity index was much lower than the control group in almost every session. Hence, the study concluded that acupuncture is effective in decreasing the severity and loudness of tinnitus and can be a successful treatment for non pulsatile chronic tinnitus.

Lastly, a 2016 study aimed at a systematic review and meta-analysis of all available randomized controlled trials using acupuncture to treat tinnitus. The results of the review suggested that acupuncture therapy might offer subjective benefits to certain tinnitus patients.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing buzzing, ringing, whistling, hissing, chirping, or other sounds. The noise can be either be intermittent or continuous and can differ in loudness. It is typically worse when the background noise is low. Thus, you might be most aware of it at night when you are trying to sleep.

Tinnitus is quite common in the                US as it affects almost 50 million Americans. For many individuals, the condition is just an annoyance. However, in severe cases, tinnitus can cause people to experience difficulty in sleeping and concentrating. It might eventually start interfering with personal relationships and work, resulting in psychological distress.

Even though tinnitus is usually associated with hearing loss, it doesn’t cause the loss. Similarly, a hearing loss doesn’t lead to tinnitus. As a matter of fact, certain people suffering from tinnitus don’t experience any problem in hearing, and in some cases, they even become so highly sensitive to sound that they have to take steps to mask or muffle external noises.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is mostly described as a ringing in the ears, even though there is no external sound. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, tinnitus can also lead to other kinds of phantom noises in your ears, such as:

  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Humming

Most individuals suffering from tinnitus have subjective tinnitus. This means that only they can hear the sounds. The noises of tinnitus might vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal. You might hear the sound in either one or both ears.

Causes

The most common cause of tinnitus is prolonged exposure to loud sounds. This can damage the sound-sensitive cells present in the cochlea, an organ in the inner ear.

A number of other illnesses and conditions can result in tinnitus, such as:

  • Blockages in the ear due to wax buildup, ear infection, or in some cases, a benign tumor of the nerve
  • Jaw or neck problems
  • Meniere’s disease that affects the inner part of the ear
  • Neck and head injuries
  • Other medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, anemia, circulatory problems, autoimmune disease, allergies, diabetes, and an underactive thyroid gland.
  • Otosclerosis, a disease that leads to stiffening of the small bones in the middle ear
  • Some drugs – most commonly aspirin, certain kinds of antidepressants, antibiotics, loop diuretics, antiinflammatories, and quinine medications; tinnitus is considered to be a possible side effect for nearly 200 non-prescription and prescription drugs.
  • The natural aging process, which can cause the cochlea or other parts of the ear to deteriorate.

Tinnitus can intensify in certain people if they smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, eat particular foods, or drink caffeinated beverages. There is some evidence that fatigue and stress can also aggravate tinnitus.

Last Few Words

If a ringing sound in your ears is bothering you and preventing you from sleeping properly on concentrating on tasks, you should definitely look into acupuncture.

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we offer acupuncture treatment to help you overcome the condition. Book a consultation appointment at 713-780-9786 or our outreach at Houston Methodist Hospital Wellness Services at 713-441-5980.

acupuncture benefits for sleep

Acupuncture Benefits For Sleep Issues

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Being unable to sleep at night is quite frustrating and can even result in health problems.

Unfortunately, sleep issues are more common than you would think. As a matter of fact, over one-third of adults in the US report getting less than 7 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. In addition, over 70 percent of high-school students report getting less than 8 hours of sleep on weeknights.

When you think of ways to get more sleep, the idea of getting poked with needles perhaps won’t enter your mind – but it probably should! Acupuncture – an ancient Chinese practice – has been associated with enhanced sleep and has also been shown to help treat insomnia.

Continue reading to learn more about acupuncture benefits for sleep issues.

What Does Research Say About Acupuncture Benefits for Sleep Issues?

There are several studies investigating the impact of acupuncture benefits for sleep issues. Here is what research says about acupuncture for various sleep disorders.

Primary Insomnia

Evidence suggests that acupuncture can benefit individuals with insomnia that cannot be attributed to any particular cause.

A small study in 2017 evaluated the safety and efficacy of acupuncture treatment for primary insomnia. The 72 participants suffering from primary insomnia either received actual acupuncture or sham acupuncture, where the needles were not inserted as deep into the skin. Participants were given treatment three times every week for a period of four weeks.

The results of the research revealed that acupuncture was more beneficial in alleviating insomnia-related symptoms, improving sleep efficiency, and increasing total time during the course of the treatment. In addition, people’s sleep awakening and self-rated anxiety also increased considerably two and four weeks post-treatment.

Sleep Apnea

A systematic review and meta-analysis of nine studies performed in 2020, including almost 600 people, discovered that acupuncture showed significant improvements in symptoms of sleep apnea, oxygen saturation levels, and ratings of sleepiness. This was particularly true among individuals with mild to serious cases.

Mental Health Conditions and Insomnia

A study conducted in 2020 involving 90 participants with insomnia and depression discovered that 3 weekly electroacupuncture (a kind of acupuncture that uses electric currents) sessions for 8 weeks helped improve:

  • Sleep efficiency
  • Sleep quality
  • Depression
  • Total sleep time

Such improvements were considerably higher as compared to placebo or sham treatment.

Chronic Pain and Insomnia

A review of nine studies in 2019 encompassing almost 1,000 individuals with insomnia caused by chronic pain found that acupuncture was more effective at enhancing sleep quality as compared to medication or sham treatment.

What Are Sleep Issues?

Sleep issues are a group of conditions that impact your ability to sleep well regularly.

Many individuals often experience sleeping issues due to hectic schedules, stress, and other external factors. Nevertheless, when these problems start to occur regularly and interfere with everyday life, they might be suffering from a sleeping disorder.

Depending on the kind of sleep disorder, individuals might have a tough time falling asleep and might feel excessively tired throughout the day. The lack of sleep can negatively impact concentration, mood, energy, along with their overall health.

Sleep issues can also impact your performance at school or work, cause strain in relationships, and compromise your ability to perform everyday tasks.

Types of Sleep Disorders?

There are several different kinds of sleep disorders. They are often categorized into groups that explain how they impact you or why they happen. The most common sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia – You might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the entire night.
  • Sleep apnea – You might experience abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome – Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, Restless Legs Syndrome leads to an uncomfortable feeling and a longing to move the legs as you try to sleep.
  • Narcolepsy – A condition where you might feel extremely sleepy during the day and fall asleep suddenly during the day.

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

The symptoms of sleep disorders depend on the type and severity of the sleeping disorders. They might even vary if they are caused by another condition. Nevertheless, common symptoms of sleep disorders include:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Trouble staying or falling asleep
  • Unusual breathing patterns
  • Strong desire to take naps during the day
  • Unpleasant or unusual urges to move while falling asleep
  • Unintentional changes to sleep and wake schedule
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Unusual movement or other experiences while sleeping
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • Weight gain.

Causes of Sleep Disorders

There are several diseases, disorders, and conditions that can lead to disturbed sleep. In several cases, sleep disorders develop due to an underlying medical or health issue.

  • Respiratory problems and allergies. Upper respiratory tract infections, allergies, and colds can make it difficult for you to breathe at night. Being unable to breathe through your nose can even lead to sleeping troubles.
  • Frequent urination. Frequent urination might disrupt your sleep by waking you up at night.
  • Chronic pain. Persisting pain can make it challenging to fall asleep or might even wake you up from your sleep. Here is a list of the most common causes of chronic pain –
    • Persistent headaches
    • Arthritis
    • Persistent pain in the lower back
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Anxiety and Stress. Anxiety and stress can negatively impact sleep quality. You might not be able to fall or stay asleep. Sleepwalking, Sleep talking, or nightmares might also disrupt your sleep.

How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine View Sleep Issues?

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is believed that, along with the presence of external factors impacting the emotions and mood, insomnia might also be caused by poor blood circulation, lack of nutrients in the body, or possibly incompatibilities or inconsistencies between related internal organ functions such as the kidneys, spleen, gallbladder, heart, and liver.

Last Few Words

If you are suffering from sleep issues, you should definitely look into acupuncture to get a good night’s sleep.

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we specialize in offering treatments that allow you to sleep comfortably through the night. Schedule an appointment with us for a consultation at 713-780-9786.  ACAOM also offers acupuncture treatments at Houston Methodist Hospital at 713-441-5980.

Acupuncture benefits for post-partum depression

Acupuncture Benefits for Post-Partum Depression

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According to studies, one in seven women can develop postpartum depression (PPD).  PPD can stretch out for months and can affect a woman’s ability to bond with her infant. While traditional medicine and medical interventions can help to an extent, studies show that acupuncture can offer better and sustainable results.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

The term ‘postpartum’ means ‘time after birth.’ Childbirth can be a physically and emotionally exhausting process. Many women can develop ‘baby blues’ post-delivery but if the condition persists for more than two weeks, they are usually diagnosed with postpartum depression.

Common Symptoms

PPD symptoms can differ from one person to the next and can increase or decrease in intensity. If you have postpartum depression, chances are that you:

  • Feel exhausted but sleep alludes you or you sleep for hours.
  • Cry a lot without knowing why.
  • Cannot stop eating or are not interested in food at all.
  • Feel as if your life is out of control.
  • Get mood swings without warning.
  • Have unexplained aches and pains.
  • Have difficulty remembering things or focusing.
  • Have no interest in things you used to enjoy.
  • Don’t feel anything for your baby and wonder why you are not filled with joy.
  • Feel guilty and worthless as a mother.
  • Withdraw from friends and family because you don’t want to be judged.
  • Have thoughts about self-harm or about harming the baby.

Taking these symptoms into account, it is little wonder why suicide is one of the leading causes of death in postpartum women. The study also revealed that women who experienced physical and sexual abuse as children were more prone to the condition. According to the same study, as per a postpartum depression screening program of 10,000 women, diagnosed postpartum women had high rates of self-harm ideation as well as frequent thoughts of self-harm.

How PPD Can Affect Your Baby

If PPD is left untreated, it can have an adverse effect on a baby. That’s because women who have this condition are more likely to:

  • Miss postpartum check-ups deliberately and fail to follow instructions from their doctor.
  • Pull away from their babies emotionally.
  • Fail to breastfeed their baby which in turn can lead to nutrition deficiencies in the latter.
  • Fail to get their babies checked out at the hospital if they are sick and need immediate care. They may also skip essential vaccinations that can protect their child from harmful infections.

What Is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is rare, but it can manifest in PPD patients who suffer from bipolar disorder or any other serious mental health condition. Some of the symptoms that are associated with this condition include the following:

  • Rapid mood swings throughout the day.
  • Reckless behavior.
  • Paranoia and suspiciousness.
  • Agitation or restlessness.
  • Difficulty communicating at times.
  • Persistent irritability.
  • Difficulty sleeping.

It is also important to know that most women who get postpartum psychosis never experienced violent delusions and most of them do not harm themselves or anyone else. However, the risk of danger is there because postpartum psychosis leads to irrational judgment which can have terrible consequences.              This is why the illness should be assessed as quickly as possible and patients should be carefully monitored. The condition is temporary and treatable with acupuncture and traditional psychological interventions.

Acupuncture Benefits for Postpartum Depression

Acupuncture has been used for years to treat postpartum depression in women. The needling method has been known to alleviate common PPD symptoms and/or reduce their severity enough to allow patients to manage them.

Depending on which part of the body is targeted, acupuncture can:

  • Trigger the nervous system to produce painkillers or neurotransmitters.
  • Stimulate parts of the brain that release serotonin and which control our emotions.
  • Jumpstart the body’s natural ability to heal.

Traditional interventions for postpartum depression include the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD). The main treatment methods include drug therapy, physical therapy and psychological intervention.

Acupuncture has been gaining traction as an efficient treatment for PPD for its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, which overarches all of the tendencies that patients can feel.

A study of several reviews was conducted that proved this theory. Since there was no specific criterion for PPD diagnosis, a two-step screening method was used in most of the studies that were taken into account. All of the patients that were included in the analysis met the diagnostic criteria of PPD. In the treatment group, patients underwent several acupuncture treatments and in the control group, patients were administered placebos such as herb and psychological interventions.

At the end of the studies, it was concluded that patients in the acupuncture group showed significantly better results as per the Hamilton Depression Scale compared to those in the control group. The conclusion is that acupuncture seems to be efficient in improving some PPD symptoms where traditional methods fail.

Conclusion

At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we offer treatments that are conducted by trained, experienced and licensed acupuncturists on staff. Book a consultation today by dialling 713-780-9786.  The treatment is also available at all ACAOM at Houston Methodist Hospital locations at 713-441-5980. Get in touch with us for a consultation today!

acupuncture for neuropathy

Exploring Acupuncture Benefits for Neuropathy

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If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, you know the resulting numbness and pain can be literally unbearable. Walking, particularly on cold, hard surfaces – such as a tiled floor – can feel like stepping on ground-up glass.

The good news is that acupuncture can offer significant relief if you are experiencing neuropathy. Here is a comprehensive guide on acupuncture’s benefits for neuropathy.

What Does Research Say About Acupuncture for Neuropathy

While research is still being performed to test the effectiveness of acupuncture on peripheral neuropathy, there have been some successful studies.

In 2007, a pilot study involving one hundred and ninety-two consecutive patients with peripheral neuropathy confirmed that acupuncture as an alternative treatment method improved symptoms with fewer side effects for more neuropathic patients as compared to those receiving conventional medical care.

Another study investigated the effects of acupuncture on diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The study compared 42 patients who were treated with acupuncture with 21 cases provided with sham acupuncture and observed the effects on nerve conduction velocity and various subjective symptoms associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Three out of six measures associated with motor nerves, along with two measures of sensory function, indicated noticeable improvement over the 15-day treatment period in the acupuncture group. However, no sensory or motor function noticeably improved in the sham acupuncture group.

In addition, a group of researchers from China evaluated the clinical efficacy of acupuncture through analysis and review of systematic reviews of acupuncture for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. They concluded that acupuncture appears to have an effect on diabetic peripheral neuropathy, improving nerve conduction and clinical symptoms.

Another pilot study conducted with cooperation between Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (BUCM), China, and Tehran University of Medical Science (TUMS), Iran, aimed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Forty participants with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy were randomly and equally divided to receive 12 sessions of acupuncture (20 minutes per session over 4 weeks) or 3 take 300mg capsules of gabapentin and 1 300mg tablet of vitamin B1 each day for 4 weeks. After this,  both groups were followed up for 4 weeks.

The study revealed that acupuncture, as a type of traditional Chinese medicine, is quite safe and effective in treating chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. In addition, acupuncture is more effective as compared to using gabapentin and vitamin B1 as the conventional treatment.

Lastly, a study conducted by the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, concluded that acupuncture could be regarded as a possible alternative therapy in treating paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy – an intractable and common side effect of the conventional chemotherapy agent – paclitaxel.

What Is Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy can impact various nerves, such as the sensory nerves that register sensations (such as cold, hot, soft, and pain) to motor nerves that govern movement. It can also impact autonomic nerves that control your digestion, body temperature, and heart rate.

Peripheral neuropathy can result from infections, traumatic injuries, auto-immune diseases, vitamin over-supplementation or deficiencies, exposure to toxins (including chemotherapy drugs), and metabolic problems. However, the most common cause is diabetes.

Symptoms of Neuropathy

The symptoms of neuropathy depend on which nerves have been impacted.

If motor nerves have been affected, the symptoms will include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Twitching
  • Foot drop
  • Paralysis
  • Muscle wasting
  • Muscle cramps

If sensory nerves have been affected, the symptoms will include:

  • Numbness
  • Increased pain from things that should not trigger pain
  • Decreased sensation of hot and cold or pain
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Sharp or burning pain
  • Tingling and prickling sensation

If autonomic nerves have been affected, the symptoms will include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Belching, bloating, or feeling of sickness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness or fainting upon standing due to low blood pressure
  • Sweating too little or too much

Symptoms can lead to challenges in everyday activities, such as trouble sleeping or walking due to pain in the legs and feet.

Causes of Neuropathy

There are several factors that can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Thus, it’s usually difficult to pinpoint the actual cause. Neuropathy can be caused by one of three methods:

  • Acquired neuropathies are caused by environmental factors, including trauma, toxins, infection, or illness. Known causes of acquired neuropathy include:
    • Alcoholism
    • Diabetes
    • Vitamin deficiency or poor nutrition
    • Certain types of cancer and chemotherapy used to treat them
    • Some medications
    • Thyroid or kidney disease
    • Pressure or injury on the nerves
    • Infections like AIDS, Lyme disease, or shingles
  • Hereditary neuropathies are diseases of the peripheral nerves that are genetically passed from parent to child.
  • Idiopathic neuropathies usually come from an unknown cause. Almost a third of all neuropathies come under this category.

Acupuncture Benefits for Neuropathy

According to traditional Chinese medicine, peripheral neuropathy occurs when there’s a blockage of blood and energy (known as qi) in the body. If blood and qi don’t flow freely, our tissues and cells don’t receive an adequate amount of nourishment.

Acupuncture is quite effective at restoring blood flow and stimulating the body’s nerve pathways. The needles used in acupuncture are inserted into specific pressure points in your body to stimulate the nervous system. This releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers, in the spine, brain, and muscles. This technique alters your body’s response to pain.

Several people suffering from neuropathy turn to acupuncture to relieve their chronic pain. In addition, acupuncture can even help with nerve preservation and regeneration. If there has been diminished sensation or nerve damage, acupuncture is targeted in these areas to re-stimulate those nerve fibers.

Conclusion

If you are suffering from peripheral neuropathy, you should definitely consider getting acupuncture to alleviate the pain associated with your condition. However, it is important that you receive treatment from someone who has met standards for training and education in acupuncture.

American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is the only acupuncture and herbal clinic affiliated with a specialized medicine institution in Houston. Contact us today at 713-780-9786 to schedule an appointment with us.  ACAOM at Houston Methodist Hospital Wellness Services is also open for acupuncture treatments.  Call 713-441-5980 for appointments.